Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Sevilla-Buitrago, A. Territory and the governmentalisation of social reproduction: Parliamentary enclosure and spatial rationalities in the transition from feudalism to capitalism, Journal of Historical Geography, Volume 38, Issue 3, July 2012, Pages 209-219

Recent applications of Foucauldian categories in geography, spatial history and the history of town planning have opened up interesting new perspectives, with respect to both the evolution of spatial knowledge and the genealogy of territorial techniques and their relation to larger socio-political projects, that would be enriched if combined with other discursive traditions. This article proposes to conceptualise English parliamentary enclosure-a favourite episode for Marxist historiography, frequently read in a strictly materialist fashion-as a precedent of a new form of sociospatial governmentality, a political technology that inaugurates a strategic manipulation of territory for social change on the threshold between feudal and capitalist spatial rationalities. I analyse the sociospatial dimensions of parliamentary enclosure’s technical and legal innovations and compare them to the forms of communal self-regulation of land use customs and everyday regionalisations that preceded it. Through a systematic, replicable mechanism of reterritorialisation, enclosure acts normalised spatial regulations, blurred regional differences in the social organisation of agriculture and erased the modes of autonomous social reproduction linked to common land. Their exercise of dispossession of material resources, social capital and community representations is interpreted therefore as an inaugural logic that would pervade the emergent spatial rationality later known as planning.

Author keywords
Commons; Michel Foucault; Parliamentary enclosure; Planning history; Spatial governmentality; Territoriality

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